The developers of a housing estate on the former home of Louth Town Football Club have been accused of using a planning ‘loophole’ to wriggle out of providing a replacement stadium.
East Lindsey District Council leaders have agreed with GBM UK Limited’s lawyers that a condition applied to their outline application for the site in 2016 to provide a replacement sports facility for the Park Avenue site was “unenforceable”.
GBM had applied three times to have the condition removed, with the first two being rejected and the third confirmed to have been withdrawn in a report yesterday (Wednesday, December 18).
In each case, Sport England – a public body which looks to promote sport and protect playing fields – has objected to the request.
Louth Town Council had also objected to the loss of facilities.
Yesterday, GBM’s director Simon Grantham said he had decided to have a “different approach” and a “change of direction for the overall scheme”, but would not discuss how the plans would progress further.
Now, however, it’s been revealed a decision has been taken at executive level to release GBM from the condition.
Paul Edwards, Development Control Service Manager, said it was due to planning approval for a replacement facility on Louth Industrial Estate expiring without the build beginning. He said that the site was “also no longer available”.
Mr Edwards added: “The application the council recently received was seeking to ‘vary’ the existing consent for the Park Avenue site, by removing the condition in regard to the requirement for the replacement sports facility.
“Following legal advice on the matter the applicant has withdrawn the application and the council has confirmed that there is no longer any obligation on the developer to provide the replacement sports facility.”
ELDC Labour councillor Ros Jackson has said the decision was taken without consultation, and without going before the entire elected planning committee.
She accused the move of being a “legal loophole” and called it a “tragedy for football in Louth”
“I have always opposed the loss of the stadium and attempts to replace it with anything less than the facility that was removed,” she said.
“The people of Louth have been denied the chance to enjoy their football stadium, and it is wrong.”
She called on East Lindsey District Council to now take on responsibility for providing the replacement facilities.
Louth Town Councillor Alex Cox said: ”I grew up around football during my childhood/ My son now enjoys playing and watching it himself.
“I believe that football should be at the heart of a community.
“A town the size of Louth deserves a stadium, for the benefit of football and other sporting activities.
“I believe that the replacement ground, as per the agreed condition, should be built.”
• The Local Democracy Reporting Service has contacted GBM for comment.